Saturday, December 31, 2011

Place: Great Smoky Mountains National Park......

Smoky Mountains in Tennessee...
My spouse had been to this park, when he was still unmarried....so he took these pictures...for everybody to enjoy the paradise-like beauty of the wilderness and the dream-like lodging, I am sharing those...



Balcony of the log cabin, nestled in the heart of the picturesque ...though I was not there, I can imagine how peaceful it would have been, to relax on the rocking wooden chair and gaze at the serene greenery and distant blue mountains.

Recently, I got to know, it is the most visited National park with 10 million/year visitors.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Bird: Starlings........

A pair of Common Starling (Sturnus vulgaris) perched on an electric wire ..these shiny, black-plumed passerine birds are gregarious in nature, staying in flocks consisting of members as high as 1.5 millionHow come here are this duo only?

Feeding on fig....

On a bare sweetgom tree........

Iridescent in morning sun........

Perched atop an agave spike.........

Bird: Jays and ravens in the National Parks............

Western Scrub Jay (Aphelocoma californica)... this white, blue and grey-feathered bird, a member of the crow family, resides in the dense pinon-juniper forests of the Grand Canyon National Park. 
This one entertained us  hopping from twigs to twigs, trees to trees and constant chirping. 

The beautiful Jay perched atop a pine tree scanning the visitors thronging the Grand Canyon National Preserve, as we took a series of photographs of this bird, it held its ground ....love the way it looks confidently with head held high...

This one perched on a memorial plaque in Powell Point enjoys the monumental beauty of the Grand Canyon.

I had never seen before, a corvid so beautiful.

A handsome, photogenic, pitch black raven, perched on a pine branch at Hermit's Rest ..unlike most of the other feathered species, this one with the shiny plumage, was least concerned of the crowds.  

Gray jay in Hurricane Ridge of Olympic National Park....

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Plant: Lantana camara...........

Lantana... this Verbenaceae family member is a major weed worldwide, encroaching agricultural fields, not to say the rapid, unchecked dominance in abandoned lands... 

In semi-arid US Southwest, they are a major part of landscaping....they make dense groundcover, fence...supply nectar for birds  and butterflies......
they come in so many colors...lets have a look...










Beautifying the median of roads in Irvine, CA.......

Recently, the medicinal uses of this plant has been validated..an array of phytochemicals have been isolated from Lantana..
I have published a scientific paper on possible utilities of this weed as a sustainable management strategy. 
http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs11157-011-9254-7

Plant: Touch-me-not creeper...........

A bed of the sensitive creeper, touch-me-not (Mimosa pudica ). These herbs make me kind of nostalgic. As a kid, these creepers abounded in the sandy bank of the small rivulet meandering along the edge of our village. I loved touching or stoning the foliage and watching them droop down, only to be opened after a while. Unaware of the biochemical mechanism behind this phenomenon, it was not less than a magic to me. Many years later, when I studied botany and was introduced to the seismonastic movement operating in this Fabaceae family member, the mystery was solved.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Food: Fish recipes from my kitchen............

Frozen fish being thawed for cooking.....

Sardines......

Bass and milk fish marinated.......

The recipes........



Salmon .. I have heard this is a healthy food rich in omega-3 fatty acid, but never got to taste any of its recipe....

Then one day we bought some fillets.....I made this....

Plant: Prickly pears....pick it wild or buy..relish anyway....

Prickly pear...
It was delightful to see the sprawling cacti shrub studded with numerous pink buds, in the marsh of Upper Newport Bay. Soon the spiny cladodes will be covered with the fully open luscious flowers. It's going to be a spring herald.

And months later, they will be replaced by luscious fruits...... hen egg-sized, juicy, crimson berries studded to a cactus cladode...

These cacti fruits, also called India fig are edible....used to prepare candies, jellies and beverages. Grown in backyards or gardens...prevalent in the chaparrals and South Western deserts.... 

even in our neighborhood....by the  streets side......

It's not that I had not relished prickly pears before...in fact I had plucked the opulent ripe fruits from the edges of Upper Newport Bay marshes and made a lunch of them, a couple of times...
But, there's a downside to it, I could never get rid of the minute spines and ended up being pricked...

So, I bought these succulent fruits from a San Diego Mexican store ...

Some of them were yellow-skinned...

with orange pulp....

some were red skinned....

with deep pinkish pulp

Both varieties were delicious...with a price tag of 99 cents for a pound it was a bargain, I guess...considering its tropical taste and nutrient goodness..

Anybody living in South California can get it for free in the wilderness..
Its clicked at Laguna beach shore...

My published paper on nutritional importance of these  succulent fruits....see the link below..

Food: Mood-booster candies......

Like many, I believe, candies are good mood boosters. That's why i keep a jar of chewy candies always handy   to spice up the dull moments.
Snickers, crunch, Reese's,  M & M, KitKat, Milkyway...

Dove...

Ferrero Rocher...

Lait melk....

Hershey's....


Cadbury's Dairy milk....

SEE's candies....

Almond roca...A box-ful of yum...

And we got this big pack for distributing among the trick-or-treat kids...but few arrived...so we ended up having the,for ourselves..



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